It’s never been easy to cover the White House—the beat is notorious for its control-freak PR operatives, stretches of bureaucratic boredom and sudden scrambles to chase massive news under huge pressure—but the Trump White House, says Bloomberg’s Margaret Talev, has “forced new efficiencies.”
“You have to report faster, write faster, think faster, sleep faster,” says Talev, who has covered the White House for a decade. Sleep faster? “I’m trying to get 6½ hours of sleep in 4½ hours,” she says. “That’s my current project.”
Talev is joking—I think!—but it’s hard to tell these days. Every year, POLITICO’s Media Issue drills into the realities of the White House beat, looking at what it’s like to cover the presidency and how that shapes what we know about the most powerful office in the world. But it has never been quite like this, and “what we know” has never been quite so unreliable.
Reporters, often the biggest names at their news organizations, find themselves having to bend to the whims of an early-rising 71-year-old who starts making news by blasting out aggrieved and, at times, outrageous tweets before the end of “Fox & Friends.” What was once one of the most prestigious gigs in journalism has become a daily slog. Craggy veterans crank out stories at odd hours as they scramble to report out the mercurial musings of a president who, with apologies to Lewis Carroll, believes as many as six impossible things before breakfast.